Rubidoux Resist! A Year Later
By: Irene Sanchez
A year after the Rubidoux High School Walkouts in 2017, there is still much work to be done? Many years after walkouts I experienced for myself during the time of Prop 187 as a student in Jurupa Unified School District, I ask what has changed? Almost 50 years after the East LA walkouts of 1968, I ask what has changed? A year ago I joined students at Rubidoux as they protested racist comments by educators. On a personal level, I can say a lot can change in a year and what has changed since was something I didn’t see a year ago, but I realize now, it was meant to be. I am now a high school educator teaching Chicanx/Latinx studies in a district that mirrors the population of Rubidoux (90+ percent Latinx students).
To start I offer this information to refresh our collective memory, on February 16, 2017 when students at Rubidoux High School in Jurupa Valley, CA participated in A Day Without Immigrants ? That same evening teachers and a guidance counselor from the school took to social media to make disparaging and racist comments about students who participated including calling them “lazy” and “drunks”. The next day Feburary 17, 2017, students protested these comments and walked out of school. About a week later on February 21, 2017, community members including students and parents organized to demand the school board take action.
The Press Enterprise reported in August 2017 that when school began the six educators who made these comments would not be on campus. As reported by the Press Enterptise, yesterday a group of 23 from the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice held a press conference at Rubidoux High School to talk about what happened a year later. The Press Enterprise stated that, “One teacher has resigned, another was transferred, and a counselor was terminated in the year since Latino students walked out of Rubidoux High School to protest the educators’ social media comments about students who took part in “A Day Without Immigrants.” Elliot Duchon, superintendent for the district claimed to not be aware of the groups demands which include resources for undocumented students.
As an alum of Rubidoux High School myself, I have followed this story since it began. I reflected a lot about being a student in the Jurupa Unified School District the majority of my K-12 schooling. While a student at Mission Middle School, walkouts against Prop 187 took place and I myself walked out of class in protest, but we were locked down in the school and watched as the high school students passed by on Mission Blvd. Two years later JUSD offered the first Chicano Studies class in the district at Rubidoux High School that I had the opportunity to take as a 9th grader.
A lot has changed in just a year and some things have not just as a lot has changed since I myself was a high school student and unfortunately some things remain the same. I am now a high school Latinx studies teacher in the San Gabriel Valley at three different high schools in a district that has a similar student Chicanx/Latinx student population to what is now Rubidoux’s, over 90 percent. It continues to disturb me, perhaps differently now seeing the ways in which people who work within the K-12 system dehumanize and look down upon the very students they are supposed to be teaching. It is troubling that in 2018, we are waging battles against discrimination and racism in schools. Aside from it being a year after what happened in Rubidoux, we are on the verge of commemorating 50 years since the East LA walkouts (and many other walkouts all over the Southwest) that occured in 1968. I ask what has changed? What hasn’t? What can we do to make sure certain histories do not repeat again? We must continue to move forward and fight back against racism and discrimination. This is also what the fight for Mexican American Studies in Arizona has also showed us this past year and the ruling that banning it was motivated by racism.
All of this reminds us, that there is still much work to be done.
The struggle continues.
Flier of demands from ICIJ
https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FIC4IJ%2Fvideos%2F1767722463279459%2F&show_text=0&width=267“>Video from Press Conference on 2/16/18
Photos by Irene Sanchez
School Board Meeting 2/21/17
Student Walkout 2/17/17
Student Walkout 2/17/17